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Remember the Wrestler: Justin Stanley, Wilton HS/Iowa Hawkeyes


Parents: Way to go, son! Nice win!

Kid: Thanks. So I’m guessing there were no upsets with Justin Stanley?

Parents: No, he won by a lot. You will have him next. Just try your best!

Kid: Ok, so after Stanley, who will I have to beat in order to get 3rd? 



Kid 1: I don’t know whether to cut to 112 or to go up to 130 at this point. I mean, why would I want to cut to wrestle Jason Utter?

Kid 2: Or go up to 130 and be eaten alive by Justin Stanley? Yeah, that sounds better!

Kid 1: Jeez…and there is Nick Marolf and Tony Sweeting floating in between there, there is no escape!!!


  • Those were real conversations that I heard real people having that involved Justin Stanley.  The first one was at state when Stanley was an upperclassmen. The second one was at an Invite earlier on in the season. Ya see, for guys around his weight in SEI in the ’97 and ’98 seasons, Justin Stanley was like the boogeyman. You could talk about a variety of hypotheticals and the worst case scenario usually had something to do with having to wrestle Justin Stanley and being eaten alive.  And it wasn’t just Wilton and SEI, the whole state caught on.  For 2 weeks now, I have been searching for the 1998 state tournament VHS tape because I know that they interviewed him after his finals match his Senior year… or did some sort of segment on him. He broke the career wins record that year and I believe they interviewed him about it.  Whenever I find that, I will post it.  But in the IPTV state tourney days, they only interviewed who they thought were the best guys lb. for lb., class for class, and Stanley fit the bill in 1998. He was a pretty big deal.  



Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?

I grew up chasing my brother Corey. I wanted to do everything he was doing. I was also good friends with Nick Marolf. So when Randy Marolf started the Moscow Wrestling Club, I got hooked.


Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?

All 3 of my brothers wrestled. Corey and Cody both won HS state titles. My foster brother, Pete Robles, was a conference champ. My son, Tyson, is in 2nd grade and started wrestling 2 years ago. He loves to go to practice and wrestle his buddies.


What were your youth results? Any rivals there?

I won 6 kids Folkstyle state titles and 1 freestyle state title (only one I ever wrestled). I had some entertaining matches with a kid named Matt Kettleson growing up.


What was your record in HS?

HS record was 176-7


How did you do at state?

4 time state qualifier.
2nd place my Sophomore year.
State Champ Junior and Senior years.


What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?

I didn’t have any issues in HS besides cutting wait. I went from 112 to 130 my senior year because I did not want to cut weight. Tim Maxwell called me “love handles” and I would reply “fat and happy”. 😁


Who was your most influential coach?

My most influential coach was Randy Marolf. His white Reebok shoes were always on point.


Was your team competitive in HS/college?

We won the state team title as a junior and we took second my senior without returning state champ Matt Pasvogel. At Iowa we were National Team Champions and Big Ten Team Champions every year.


Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?

My favorite wrestlers growing up were the Brands brothers. The most influential was my brother Corey. If he did something, I wanted to do it.


Who are your favorite current wrestlers?

My favorite current wrestlers are Spencer Lee and Alex Marinelli.



What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?

Worst loss was my 1-0 loss to Jamie Taxed in the state finals. It was the first time a had ever been rode out. I became really good at defending the legs after that match.


What was your best wrestling memory/accomplishment?

Best accomplishment was being good enough to have Tom Brands come to your house and give you a scholarship to wrestle for Iowa.



Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?

The best HS competition was Tony Sweeting, Nick Marin and Michael Elliott. The best college competition was in the room. Doug Schwab, Mike Zadick, TJ Williams, Jeff McGinness and on and on.



You became so dominant as an upperclassman that you made things look easy at times against tough competition. Was it easy at times?

I started out my HS career being tentative against ranked opponents, but after I wrestled them that way once, I started to open up and that was not to my opponents’ favor. After my state final loss, I decided to open up regardless of who stepped on the mat with me. It didn’t make it easy, but I had no doubt in my ability to win.



You held the career wins record for a bit there, how cool was that?

Records are cool and it means you had a great career. There’s a lot of great wrestlers that came through the barn.



How do you think your era would stack up against the guys in today’s era?

I don’t think it would be much different. Good wrestlers are going adapt and overcome regardless.



Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?

I only wrestled during the season.



Did you wrestle after high school?

Yep. At Iowa.



How would you describe your wrestling style?

My style was being quick and efficient.



What other sports did you play?

I played football, golf and baseball.


What are your hobbies other than wrestling?

My hobbies are all something to do with being outside. Golf is my favorite, but I like to boat, fish up north and I like keeping the lawn on point.



How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?

Wrestling helped me become calm during chaos. I don’t get worked up easily. I don’t worry about things outside my control and always find a way to accomplish the mission.



What do you do now?

I’m a superintendent and project manager for a general contractor in eastern Iowa.



Are you still involved with wrestling?

I volunteer for the Liberty Wrestling Club and Tigers Baseball Club.



Did you have a lot of fun watching your brother Corey and his battles with, I believe Ben Scorpil from West Liberty and Doug Schwab of Osage?

They had some great battles. All three were great competitors.



Do you still get recognized by strangers when you attend state?

I do and it’s from wrestlers who are around my age.



Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?

I’d say make sure your having fun and set yearly goals. Don’t sweat the small stuff. No one cares about record as a youth wrestler, have fun.



Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?

Maybe if they were 3 – 30 second periods. 😁



Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?

My brothers from Wilton and U of I teammates. They know who they are.



Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.

Only thing I’ll add is that parents need to be good role models. Too many of them are screaming at the kids and referees. This makes kids not want to wrestle anymore and also makes it a hard sell for future refs. Your kids are not getting a college scholarship before HS. Let them enjoy the sport and set their own goals.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • David Huff December 30, 2019, 3:14 pm

    Memories of my 12 years in Wilton as an educator. Loved watching JJ and all the Wilton kids succeed with hard work and dedication to themselves and their teammates. Warm spot forever.

  • Tom Fitzer December 30, 2019, 6:15 pm

    I believe I have a copy of the IPTV interview

    • Rico Swaff December 30, 2019, 9:46 pm

      That’s awesome!!! I have it too, it’s just an archaeological dig trying to find it. 🙂 When I find it, I’ll most certainly post probably a lot from it.

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